Few things are certain when it comes to funding a public school. But Tom Schneider, superintendent for District 180 in Burr Ridge, said he knows one thing for sure.
“Expenses always go up,” he said.
Unfortunately, revenues don’t always follow suit. The district’s recently approved 2013-14 spending plan calls for rising expenses that top revenues by $200,000.
Income in 2012-13 was $13.1 million, thanks to the receipt of four years’ worth of federal impact aid the district had been waiting on.
“We invested in new text books, computers and afterschool programs for the kids,” Schneider said.
But now that the government has paid what was owed to the district, he can’t be sure there is anything more coming. Federal sequestration calls not only for a 10 percent cut across the board, but also an end to impact aid.
The federal program provides money to school districts with federally owned land within their taxing boundaries. More than a third of the property within District 180, which includes Anne M. Jeans Elementary and Burr Ridge Middle schools, is occupied by Argonne National Laboratory, which is owned by the federal government. The district typically receives between $350,000 and $500,000 each year from impact aid.
School Board President Paula Dupont said the district is hoping for the best and planning for the worst by passing a budget that anticipates no help from the federal program. Consequently, the $11.2 million in anticipated income falls short of the $11.4 million worth of expenses.
“We anticipate an increase in expenses of 1.5 percent,” Schneider said. “We’ve also incorporated the loss of the sequestration.”
Of course, school officials are hoping for something better than the “worst-case scenario,” but if their fears are realized, Schneider said there is cash on hand to cover the gap.
“We do not anticipate making cuts, even if we don’t receive impact aid,” Dupont said.